15 Of The Worst Scifi Movies Ever (That You’ve Actually Heard Of)

Sci-fi movies have an unfair stereotype of being universally horrible, and because of this there’s many an unknown gem in the genre. This list, however, is devoted to movies which are actually that bad. Utterly horrible. Void in redeeming characteristics. But beyond even that, they’re ones you’ve heard of. We tried to avoid movies which were made for TV, were “so bad they’re good”, and the vast reams of mediocre sci-fi from the 60s and early 90s. Instead, most of these films had big budgets, decent actors, and studio backing. And they all blew goats.

15. Robot Monster

Robot Monster is the one example we’re going to have on this list of an old, so bad it’s good, yet at the same time utterly terrible film. It’s one of hundreds of horrible, MST3K worthy science fictions stories from the 50s and 60s, mired in non-sensical plots and special effects that make ca 1970 Dr. Who look state of the art. Robot Monster is the only of this genre we’re including in the list, because it’s notoriously bad. Bordering on the so-bad-it’s-bad side of so-bad-it’s-good. If we didn’t limit ourselves to just one, we could fill this entire list with black and white crapfests, so here’s the token entry.

14. Star Trek V

There’s an old rule of thumb, that the odd numbered Star Trek films are good (at least from the original series). Following that system, you get Wrath of Kahn (II), Voyage Home (IV) and Undiscovered Country (VI) as being any good. The worst of the lot? Star Trek V, The Final Frontier. This is what happens when you let William Shatner direct and create the story. At this point in his career, he wasn’t quite at the stage of gleeful self parody he enjoys now, but somehow viewed himself as a serious actor of some sort. And somebody decided to let him direct. That’s how you end up with this muddled, poorly scripted story about space evangelists and sort-of gods, that was produced with a script that nobody liked, and used abysmal special effects. It was universally panned, nominated for 6 Golden Raspberries, and won 3—Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Director—the last two going to Shatner.

13. Robocop 3

So what happens when you take movies packed with over-the-top violence, gratuitous nudity, and a single decent actor; then remove all those features? You get Robocop 3! Gone is Peter Weller, as is the trademark blood and gore. Instead, for some reason, the producers decided to attempt to get a PG-13 where the previous two were R. So instead of a dark and brutal tale of a robot-man attempting to battle his programing and clean up the streets of Detroit, you have a plucky gang of rebels and punks teaming up with your friendly local police unit to fight the big mean corporation. And RoboCop puts on a jetpack and saves the day, blowing up a tank. That’s right Robocop literally flies in to save the day.

12. Planet of the Apes (remake)

Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of the Planet Of The Apes was a relatively decent sci-fi film up till the last 2 minutes. Prior to that it was not a bad film. Not particularly inspired, as Mark Wahlberg maintained his usual scowl throughout the film, and Helena Bonham Carter was far too attractive as an ape. The film sends astronaut Wahlberg into the future of a planet he’s exploring, to find it inhabited by the evolved descendants of the apes on his spaceship. Okay, fair enough, makes a fair degree of sense. Then, he manages to return to Earth, and finds the entire planet inhabited by apes, and the Lincoln Memorial now dedicated to an ape. What? What the hell? That makes no sense whatsoever, and completely destroyed any ability a sane person would have to enjoy this film.

11. Bicentennial Man

There’s a rule of thumb, that any film based on an Asimov story is bound to suck balls. See I, Robot. With Bicentennial Man, instead of Asimov’s touching discussion of the nature of humanity, hatred and love, you get Robin Williams in bad makeup doing “the robot” over the course of 200 years. It was saccharine and utterly mediocre, chocked full of Williams attempting to do dramatic, which he hasn’t done well since Dead Poet’s Society. Seriously, when did Robin Williams stop doing coke? Because I’m pretty sure that’s when he started putting out movies that are utter drivel. Did you see his most recent one, starring him and Travolta?

10. Species II

I feel kind of bad picking on Species II, as it’s the flop sequel to a flop, that’s remembered only for having a blisteringly hot star. Species II deserves mention for being the first mainstream film depiction of tentacle rape outside of Japan. This entire film is obsessed with aliens impregnating ladies, who have their bellies split open and alien babies running around. In one scene, a baby alien shoots out of a woman’s vagina, and attacks her husband’s face. Nice. The main bad guy is eventually killed by a pitchfork that has the blood of someone resistant to alien infection on it, which causes him to dissolve. Yeah. This movies also great for watching, and trying to figure out how many drinks Micheal Madsen had had before each take, as he seems off his face for 90% of the film.

9. Johnny Mnemonic

Oh Keanu Reeves. You have the acting ability of a plank with stagefright, yet somehow you’re a superstar. Mnemonic has precisely one redeeming feature: Dolph Lundgren as an insane, murderous street preacher. Other than that, it’s mostly bad acting, dated special effects, and hilarious predictions about the future. Reeves’ character is a courier who can hold an incredible amount of data in a special brain implant: 160GB! As in less than the limits of an SDXC card. The future! However, as mediocre and fake morality filled as the movie was, the original short story was dark and brilliant. Plus, it’s another mirrorshades Molly story, which is always needed.

8th equal. Mission to Mars and Red Planet

I can never remember which of these films is which. They both came out around in 2000, both concerned Mars, and both sucked balls. Both had pretty decent casts: Red Planet had Val Kilmer (who was excellent in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang), Carrie-Anne Moss, and Tom Sizemore; Mission had Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle. Both involved terraforming Mars, and dealing with some form of native inhabitant. Both followed standard space movie disasters, leaving people stranded without communication. And both sucked balls. Thankfully, they were at least better than Ghosts of Mars, but that was by John Carpenter, so what can you expect?

6. Rollerball (remake)

I’m pretty sure LL Cool J has never been in a movie that isn’t complete and utter donkey balls. While Jean Reno ups the cool quotient in this remake of a classic dystopian action sci-fi, the rest of it is an utterly jumbled mess. Stupid action, bad acting, and a completely daft plot. However, things briefly get better when Rebecca Romijn takes her top off. Be sure not to confuse this with the almost identical, but even worse, made-for-TV movie Futuresport which starred Dean Cain. It’s a good thing this list only covers feature films, because Futuresport was Rollerball’s retarded little brother, which didn’t even have Romijn’s redeeming features. What is it about remakes that just attracts the suck?

5. Armageddon

Oh, Armageddon. Never before have so many shitty movie cliches and bad science combined into such a perfect storm of crappy movie. Seriously, the histrionic plot is bad enough, but the science of the film is so bad as to make any scientist within a 5 mile radius of a showing to spontaneously combust. They get every possible details wrong—how you would stop an asteroid; what would happen if you put explosives down a shaft in one; what would happen if you split it up; sound in space; gravity; hiring oildrillers for the thing in the first place. Throw in Ben Stiller pretending he can act and Bruce Willis giving a textbook definition of “phoning it in”, you get an utterly crap movie, of course directed by Michael Bay. Anyone with even half a brain went to see Deep Impact instead.

4. Lost in Space

Another example of crappy remake-itis, only this time it’s of the campy 60s TV show by the same name. Again and again on this list, one or two good actors will often be in these films, and you have to wonder how they got convinced to work with such a shitehouse script. In this case it’s William Hurt and Gary Oldman, both of whom are amazing actors in most of their works. Yet somehow they’re in this rubbish film. You’re also forced to suffer through Matt Le Blanc attempting a semi-serious role, and Lacey Chabert, who has a voice like Mini Mouse on helium. While the action and special effects were solid, the pacing, acting and characterization were so wooden that a plank would cringe. The plot was utterly cookie-cutter, with every point being telegraphed and announced well in advance, and when the main characters don’t see them coming, you come to the realization that the ship was actually staffed by a family of morons, and the planet Earth created a space program just to get rid of them.

3. The Day The Earth Stood Still (remake)

Hey, lets remake a classic science fiction film! And lets cast Keanu Reeves in the main role! That’s bound to be awesome! And lets completely forget that the first movie only survived due to Cold War paranoia and aggression, and instead make it about Climate Change! That’s hip, right? Kids are all about the environment! I suppose it’s kind of genius to cast Reeves as an alien. At least then his complete lack of emotion and acting ability can be blamed on him being an extra-terrestrial pretending to be one of us. They also removed the hint of uncertainty that was at the end of the original, and replaced it with heavy handed alien action in the remake. Instead of mankind being left to decide whether or not to mend its ways, we just all get EMPed back to the dark ages. Thanks Keanu!

2. Batman And Robin

Bat nipples. Bat ice-skates. Bat crotch-shots. Arnold as Mr. Freeze with ice puns. Alicia Silverstone. Uma Thurman camping it up. Batman and Robin was so bad that it almost completely destroyed the superhero genre of films. Every scene in this movie is a litany of suck. It’s so bad that George Clooney is rumored to be willing to give anyone their money back for going to see it, if you run into him in person. Even Gotham City itself is a mad hybrid of giant nude men and neon signs. The entire film was designed just to sell toys, with multiple vehicles, costume changes and gadgets. And who the hell though casting Alicia Silverstone in anything would be a good idea? Thank God Nolan came along, and erased this horrorshow from everyone’s minds.

1 .Battlefield Earth

Was there ever any doubt? Star vehicle, vanity film and Scientology wankfest. Mammothly overbudget, it was universally panned. The special effects; the acting; the script; the music; everything about the film was a pile of balls. Mean Magazine got hold of the script before the film came out, and changed its name and shopped it around the studios to see their reaction. It was rejected (often brutally) by everyone they sent it to. Yet someone thought it was good enough to make into a film. And that was John Travolta. Apparently he had been trying to make the film for decades, but was unable to put together a studio or crew. We would have all been better off if it had stayed that way. Utter drivel of the worst sort, Battlefield Earth deserves its reputation as one of the worst movies ever.